Crying at Work

I was sitting around the table gabbing with some very high-powered career women when one, in a hushed voice, confided that she started to tear up in a meeting with her boss. My friend was berating herself because everyone knows, women should not cry at the office.

So I really blew my friend's mind when I told her she shouldn't worry about it. That her boss probably looked around for a tissue, handed it to her and thought about something else. Like the man who was crying in her office 15 minutes before.

That's when the whole group took notice. Yep, I said a man. Big boys do cry. In my experience, they cry as much, if not more than women in the workplace. I realize how shocking this might be to many of you, but it's true.

Still, one of the women in the group refused to believe it. "No way," she said and then described a burly ball buster that worked next to her. She explained that he'd as soon as eat his own grandmother before he'd shed a tear.

That may be, but I reminded her that working alongside a man is a very different experience than when you're that man's boss. People cry in front of their bosses. It happens all the time.

We like to think that only women cry, but men also cry in the workplace and it makes sense why either sex does. The workplace is a battle field. It is often the place we are expected to kill and conquer and most of our egos are aligned to the task. This is where we prove ourselves to others and mostly to ourselves. So when something goes wrong or the feedback is hard to hear, the result can be a wellspring of emotion. Why? Because we are human. Nothing more than that.

There will be times when the situation is emotional. You are allowed to cry. It's probably the healthiest response imaginable. Grab a tissue, excuse yourself and then go somewhere to take care of yourself. Not because what you're doing is wrong--it isn't, but because taking care of yourself takes personal space--space hard to come by in the boss's office. What will the boss think? I can only speak for this boss, but I never gave it a second thought. Mainly, the tears meant to me that this person--man or woman--wants to do well. As a boss, you can't ask for much more than that.

To cry on Alicia's shoulder, visit www.aliciamorga.com.

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